Jack Douglas walked into the study room where I was waiting for him. He was holding a chicken Parmesan sandwich loaded with marinara sauce and sprinkled with cheese. He sat in the chair next to me and put his feet up on the table as he began to bite into his sandwich. At first, he took the time to chew between his thoughts, but he seemed to forget about the sandwich as we kept talking, and by the end of our interview it was only half eaten.
During our interview, I noticed his voice sounded deeper than normal, and he took his time to think out each response, speaking slowly and thoughtfully.
Douglas’s parents involved him with music when he was very young, signing him up for piano lessons when he was five years old. He went on to take lessons in guitar and violin, but chose to stick with guitar for the remainder of his time at home in Atlanta. He taught himself harmonica in college, and can also “fiddle around on the banjo.”
Douglas writes his own songs, both for his band and for himself. He’s currently in the band Touch It, which Douglas describes as a “hard drunk party band.” Douglas was also in a band in high school, called Lotus Slide, in which he also played guitar and wrote songs.
“When I write for myself I sort of get a good feel, maybe write a verse or write a chorus, and then let that lead into whatever the song is going to be,” he said. “When I write for Touch It, it’s the same, but I’ll let everyone else fill it out and see what else we need to put into it to make it a complete song. I don’t write all the songs for Touch It.”
He says that songs he writes himself have less emphasis on completion, and there is an added level of complexity to filling up the sound on his own with a single instrument. Songs that are written for a band are likely altered and changed due to the influence of so many other musicians.
“It’s interesting that songs somehow come from nowhere and as you’re creating them you figure out what they’re going to be in grander terms,” he said.
Although he doesn’t fully understand his own creative process, he believes that the songs performed by Touch It have a level of superiority to songs he writes by himself. He calls them “creative projects,” and says that as they work together on the song, it becomes an amalgam of six talented musicians’ individual sounds.
Douglas holds a strong musical presence on campus as a member of Touch It, as most people know him as the singer of the band. However, he considers himself a musician outside of the band as well. He is a music minor, and still takes lessons at school. He’s played in a number of events by himself, such as Open Mic night and Coburn Unplugged.
Having two sources of musical expression has been good for him, as each allows him to focus on different aspects of his musicianship, “there’s a lot of music inside my heart and it needs to come out. Sometimes it comes out for Touch It and sometimes it comes out for myself,” he said.
“Music is one of my favorite things to do, and when you have a lot of musical material that’s been written it’s going to come out in some way or another. It’s nice that I have two outlets for my musical expression.”
Douglas said that everyone has an inherent drive to identify something as a creative outlet. Music, playing, and writing serve such a purpose for him. As long as it continues to bring him joy, it will remain an outlet. “I think my favorite part is being able to share something that I spend time on and value in my life with other people, in hopes that they will also enjoy and value that experience,” he said.
Touch It will stay together until they graduate, according to Douglas, and he will remain playing with them until that day. He doesn’t see himself stopping playing after college, and will continue to utilize it as an expressive tool.
When I asked Douglas if there was anything else he wanted to add or wanted people to know, he made me promise to include his advise in my piece. “Start your own band at CC,” he said. “If you don’t like what I have to say about music, or my music, or any of the music at CC, or you do like the music at CC but you’re not quite satisfied, start your own band and quit complaining.”